Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Stopper

Hey, when a team is in the dumps, all eyes are on the stopper to make things right again. On May 12th, the Bucs were mired in an eight game losing streak; Zach Duke shut down the Cards on three hits.

Tonight, they were suffering through a five game losing streak, and Duke scattered five hits as the Pirates snapped it 10-6. He was responsible for just one of those runs, going six innings while notching his eighth win of the year.

He probably could have gone an inning or two more; Duke only faced 25 batters and threw 94 pitches. But JR explained after the game that he was concerned because Duke had sat through a couple of long innings, so he gave him an early hook, although it meant he had to run through his bullpen for a second night.

Duke had a lot of help. Adam LaRoche and Jason Jaramillo homered, and every Pirate starter, Duke included, had a hit and either scored or drove in a run.

Tonight's game showed the value of taking the third out when it's given to you. The Bucs scored six two-out runs in the fourth when they were given life on Luis Valbuena's wide throw, followed by a wild pitch, a stolen base, and four more hits, the last going yard.

The Tribe made it interesting in the ninth when Andy LaRoche had a two-out ball go off his glove - it was ruled a hit, but could have easily been scored an error - and made two miscues that were rung up on a ball off the body and a bad throw.

Steven Jackson came unglued, giving up a pair of bombs and a walk before Burney came on to finally smother the flames after five runs had crossed the dish. But hey, it's not easy getting six outs to close an inning.

The two Central Division basement dwellers will go at again tomorrow, with Indian ace Cliff Lee matching up against the Big O in the deciding game of the series.

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